The Bullmastiff is a working breed, which means exactly
that, they were bred to work! Anyone interested in purchasing or adopting
this breed should have a firm understanding of the breed’s origin
and evolution to present day breed characteristics.
In the early part of the 19th century, Gamekeepers of large English
estates looked for a canine companion to aide in patrolling the vast
acreage, as well as to take down and hold any person caught in the
act of poaching. In those times poachers were a viable threat and
poaching was often considered to be a crime punishable by death. The
gamekeepers of these vast estates first utilized breeds that were
readily available to them. The mastiff was utilized, however, they
lacked the tenacity required for the job and were not agile enough
to cover the amount of ground that the estates often were comprised
of. The bulldog was also utilized but they were far too ferocious
and very different from what you see in today’s bulldog. English
gamekeepers then decided to create this noble breed by crossing the
bulldog with the mastiff to obtain silent, swift, agile and powerful
dogs, then known as night dogs, for protection against poachers. These
dogs were the culmination of tremendous physical strength and an innate
guarding instinct. Yet the bullmastiff also possessed an affectionate
disposition and devotion to its master often following them home after
a long night of patrolling the estate.
Obviously, bullmastiffs are no longer in charge of large rolling estates.
However that does not mean that the guarding instinct has disappeared
with the 19th century use of this dog. The bullmastiff will guard
family members left in its charge. They are loyal and faithful companions.
It is imperative that the breed is properly socialized and has obedience
training. Bullmastiffs will take charge of any situation if you let
them. Remember they have the size and power to back up their will.
Training the bullmastiff is a must to lay a proper foundation that
will last a lifetime.
The bullmastiff was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club
in October of 1933. The breed
standard of the bullmastiff or physical description can be found
on the AKC website.
The American Bullmastiff Association, which is the parent breed club,
carries a far more detailed description on their website as well:
Bullmastiffs are often good with children if they are raised together
and socialized properly. However, it is imperative that the potential
owner understand that the bullmastiff and children must have a mutual
respect for each other. Also, the bullmastiff is a large breed and
what could be meant as a playful pawing can knock over a child and
or hurt a child. Children should never be left unattended with any
dog not just a bullmastiff. With proper training the bullmastiff can
be a loyal and loving companion.
Bullmastiffs prefer to be the only pet. The breed was developed to
work independently and not in a pack. Bullmastiffs can be aggressive
toward other dogs. However they may get along with canines of opposite
sex. However, putting two same sex bullmastiffs together is asking
for trouble. They can appear to co-exist and then in the blink of
an eye they may have a trigger and a fight could ensue. Their size
makes it difficult to break up a fight and often requires a trip to
the vet and those intervening may get injured as well. If this behavior
occurs then the dogs must be separated for the remaining life of the
dogs. Therefore, it is not a wise idea to have multiple same gender
bullmastiffs or varied breeds co-existing with a bullmastiff.
Although their size is large the bullmastiff
is typically a softy where their human companions are concerned. They
enjoy living indoors with human interaction this is where they are
most happy. They do not require large amounts of exercise. A few walks
daily or a romp in the yard and they are content. Whether residing
on large acreage or in an apartment in the city bullmastiffs are happy
and content in their home. Bullmastiffs should never be allowed to
roam freely in a neighborhood. They are guard dogs and should be treated
as such. They do require special attention in the summer months. They
are a short muzzled breed and require activity to be during the coolest
hours of a summer’s day. They can overheat quickly and that
can become a medical emergency.
Additional information about the Bullmastiff may be found at the following
If you would like to read further about Bullmastiffs you may find
the following books interesting. Some may be out of print, but may
be available as used books.
Bullmastiffs Today by Lyn Pratt
The Bullmastiff: Peerless Protector by Geraldine Roach and
The Ultimate Book of Mastiff Breeds by Douglas Oliff
Bringing up a Bullmastiff Puppy by Mona Lindau-Webb, which
may be obtained directly from the author for $10. Send your order
to Mona Lindau-Webb, 1943 South Holt Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90034.
A recent search at Powell's
Books brought up a list of fourteen additional books to